A crowd of 8000 people attended the largest Pakatan dinner in Johor on Friday, 14 September, sending shivers down the ranks of the BN.

The 800-table dinner was held at Sutera Mall near the upmarket Taman Sutera Utama residential area in Skudai, though many of those who turned up seemed to be from outside the neighbourhood.

A thunderous roar from the multi-ethnic crowd greeted Anwar when he arrived with his entourage.

Two observers, a veteran journalist and a former journalist, were struck by the range of people attending the dinner-forum, with all ethnic groups significantly represented. “They were completely unfazed by the heavy presence of police. And they hung on to Anwar’s every word until midnight,” said the veteran journalist.

Entire families were there from grandmothers to children. When Anwar spoke, some of those at the back surged forward giving the impression that some of the tables at the back were half empty.

One of the main organisers was Chua Jui Ming, and the observers were impressed with his ability to draw the people to the event.

Mat Sabu was a big hit as was Sallahudin. Anwar himself spoke about high-level corruption and the privatisation that has benefited cronies.

How does this large turnout translate to seats?

Of the 222 seats in the federal parliament, 26 are from Johor. At present, the BN holds 25 seats and Pakatan (DAP) has one. The BN’s seats are held by Umno (16), MCA (7), MIC (1) and Gerakan (1).

The two observers I spoke to felt that this time around, Pakatan could bag nine seats at least – something the BN is worried about.

If you are from Johor, share with us your own impressions of the mood on the ground.